Imagine How The FBI And NSA Would Flip Out If Tor Browsing Was Built Into Firefox Or Chrome?

from the things-could-get-interesting dept

All last week, we saw law enforcement types freaking out about the news that Apple and Google were making phone encryption a default. While a good step in the right direction, this was really kind of a minor thing, only protecting a small bit of information -- and yet law enforcement folks went nuts.

So just imagine how crazy they'll go if Tor were embedded directly into Firefox as the default "private browsing mode," as was recently hinted at by Tor exec director Andrew Lewman. Even though private browsing mode still isn't even used that much, adding Tor automatically to it would be quite handy for those who wish to have greater control over their privacy, but haven't gone through the trouble of setting up Tor themselves. Lewman didn't name the browser that has been thinking about this, but did say it had 10 to 20% of the market, which suggests Firefox is the most likely partner. Though, frankly, it would be nice to see this as a feature on all browsers.

Still, I imagine that if that happens, we'll see a similar freakout from the FBI, DOJ, NSA and others, insisting that actually protecting user privacy is somehow better enabling criminals and terrorists. Of course, the truth is that most criminals and terrorists do plenty of other things to reveal themselves. Very, very, very few people are competently able to hide any and all behavior against even semi-competent detective and intelligence work. But what further expanding Tor can do is better protect perfectly legal and innocent behavior from being tracked and abused.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Sep 2014 @ 1:16pm

    I can take a guess...

    If TOR is embedded into popular internet browsers, civilization as we know it will cease to exist.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      tomczerniawski, 30 Sep 2014 @ 1:56pm

      Re: I can take a guess...

      Civilization as I know it has *already* ceased to exist. I thought the civilization I inhabited was above spying on its own citizens. I thought spying on their own citizens was what made the Russian and Chinese civilizations bad, and ours good, because ours would never stoop to such depths.

      I've rapidly gone from believing our western governments to be ethical and moral beacons to the world, champions of civilization all, to considering them the direst threat to my safety and well-being in existence. Nowadays I can't decide whether to leave, or stick around and watch it all come apart.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 30 Sep 2014 @ 1:59pm

        Re: Re: I can take a guess...

        The only problem with wanting to leave is that there is nowhere better to go. The ass-fuckery is global.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 1 Oct 2014 @ 5:31am

          Re: Re: Re: I can take a guess...

          Have you not looked at Germany lately? If you want Utopia, you're not gonna get much closer than Germany.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Oct 2014 @ 10:13am

      Re: I can take a guess...

      well, TorBrowser IS Firefox with the TOR plugin added and some settings tweaked. So it wouldn't take much to roll it into the mainline build as default for privacy mode.

      Hopefully it'll make civilization as we know it cease to exist and replace it with civilization as we'd like it -- but I'm not holding my breath.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Sep 2014 @ 1:20pm

    Only pedo-terrorists use Tor, because law enforcement would never be able to crack the encryption scheme behind it! Doesn't the public know that according to the government the term 'whistleblower' is a sexual term now?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Sep 2014 @ 1:25pm

    Holder urges vendors to leave device "hackdoors" open

    Lame duck Atty Gen Holder wants vendors to leave CALEA-style hackdoors open for the NSA/CIA/FBI/... to "stop those that abuse children".

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2014/09/30/holder-urges-tech-companies-t o-leave-device-backdoors-open-for-police/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 30 Sep 2014 @ 1:26pm

    We don't have to imagine

    It will get built in to some browser, at some point.
    It's inevitable.
    They will freak out.
    Pull up a chair and let's watch it happen.
    (The MPAA will complain about how TOR is responsible for all piracy, except when it's Google's fault; and this clearly hurts corn farmers, so, I reluctantly add...)
    Grab a popcorn.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Sep 2014 @ 1:29pm

    Plot Twist: It's Internet Explorer that's getting it built in.


    /jk

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Sep 2014 @ 1:32pm

    Gotta protect those kids from pix of dongles

    Some of those USB dongles are really gross -- 64 GBytes!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rich Kulawiec, 30 Sep 2014 @ 1:37pm

    I'd think that the FBI would WANT this

    Given their propensity for losing laptops en masse (e.g. http://arstechnica.com/uncategorized/2007/02/8821/ ) I'd think they'd be first in line for strongly encrypted portable devices.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Sep 2014 @ 2:58pm

      Re: I'd think that the FBI would WANT this

      TOR encrypts data in transit, not in storage.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Rich Kulawiec, 30 Sep 2014 @ 3:27pm

        Re: Re: I'd think that the FBI would WANT this

        I was referring to the general concept of increased security/encryption, in particular to the hissy fit that they've been throwing ever since Google and Apple made their announcements.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      OldMugwump (profile), 30 Sep 2014 @ 4:03pm

      Re: I'd think that the FBI would WANT this

      For them, not for us.

      It's them against us, you know.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Sep 2014 @ 1:41pm

    If its open for the government...

    Then its open for EVERYONE!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    tomczerniawski, 30 Sep 2014 @ 1:47pm

    FBI director James Comey: "If TOR comes to Firefox, your children will inject heroin and ebola directly into their eyeballs, defect to ISIS, and produce child pornography. Pandemonium! Cats and dogs living together! Mass hysteria!"

    Anyway, TOR is probably already compromised. Keep in mind who made the damn thing in the first place.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Sep 2014 @ 3:03pm

      Re:

      It's open-source, distributed and multiple NSA-leaked documents refer to it as the bane of their existence, so no, it most likely isn't compromised. If they cracked it, we'd have heard about it by now.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 1 Oct 2014 @ 10:41am

        Re: Re:

        It's open-source, distributed and multiple NSA-leaked documents refer to it as the bane of their existence, so no, it most likely isn't compromised. If they cracked it, we'd have heard about it by now.

        I thought those were FBI-leaked documents that refer to it as the bane of their existence -- I thought the NSA-leaked documents showed that they owned a large portion of the exit nodes and were using the data gathered to flag things up for parallel reconstruction.

        Of course, it was misuse of Tor that got Silk Road flagged and shut down (one of the widgets on one of the pages was pulling data from a static IP, it wasn't properly routed), so I think for many purposes, TOR is secure, and for some purposes it is broken by design.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 1 Oct 2014 @ 1:37pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          " they owned a large portion of the exit nodes and were using the data gathered to flag things up for parallel reconstruction."

          This is a long way from "breaking" Tor. Exit nodes don't know who they are carrying the traffic for, so compromising them doesn't really get you anything beyond what you could get just by sniffing the traffic through the ISP.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Sep 2014 @ 2:03pm

    Will CloudFlare stop blocking Tor when this happens?

    Currently, CloudFlare & Google are trying to block Tor users.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Sep 2014 @ 2:05pm

    That would be a Chrime...

    if Tor were built into Chrome!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Sep 2014 @ 2:22pm

    Frankly I hope their heads explode.

    We'll stop treating them like assholes when they stop treating us like criminals.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Sep 2014 @ 2:28pm

    ehhh, this will just mean that they will go farther into infiltrating all of your computer systems. If everyone's traffic is hidden they'll just jack into everyone's system and watch it from there. Water flows where there's least resistance.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Sep 2014 @ 3:12pm

      Re:

      You can't just "jack into everyone's system", not even the NSA has the kind of resources required for that. They could try and subvert future devices at the manufacturer level, but any company caught doing that even once will be no more.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Sep 2014 @ 2:29pm

    Very, very, very few people are competently able to hide any and all behavior against even semi-competent detective and intelligence work.

    even semi-competent detective and intelligence work

    semi-competent

    Now I understand why law enforcement is complaining. "Semi-competence" must be beyond them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Sep 2014 @ 2:31pm

    Who cares what they think? JUST DO IT MOZILLA! (Chrome would never do that)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Sep 2014 @ 3:34pm

    Wall Street banksters must use Tor and encryption. That must be why Eric Holder wasn't able to prosecute any of them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Sep 2014 @ 4:28pm

    Andy Griffith

    I think we should go back to the days of Andy Griffith,and have switch-board operators.

    And go back to the days of Walton's Mountain and have the local merchant's wife read the return address on all the mail.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 1 Oct 2014 @ 1:40pm

      Re: Andy Griffith

      You mean those switchboard operators who were notorious for listening in to the phone conversations that went through their boards? Once of the benefits that was touted for automatic number dialing was increased privacy because the switchboard operator was no longer there to listen to the calls or keep track of who is calling who.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Sep 2014 @ 5:18pm

    "...default 'private browsing mode'..."

    Never happen. The average user won't tolerate the performance of TOR...bad as dial-up.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 30 Sep 2014 @ 9:01pm

      Re: "...default 'private browsing mode'..."

      Unless the popularity of TOR drives innovation efforts to speed it up.

      TOR 2.0 anyone?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 1 Oct 2014 @ 2:32am

        Re: Re: "...default 'private browsing mode'..."

        One of the problems with TOR performance is the use of asymmetric speeds for domestic Internet connections. This limits throughput on relay nodes. This results in home TOR nodes having much less outbound capacity that their inbound capacity. There is not a lot that TOR developers can do about this, and putting TOR nodes in data-centers makes it that much easier for the spy agencies to gain access to doctor them.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DocGerbil100 (profile), 30 Sep 2014 @ 5:22pm

    Tor

    Sounds like a fine idea. It would certainly be nice to have some reason to recommend FireFox again, after the last few years of increasingly questionable design choices. :)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Sep 2014 @ 5:44pm

    Then the shills will start posting here and downvote everyone into oblivion. average_joe will never need his wife('s laptop), and Whatever won't need 50 accounts.

    On the plus side, that'd mean they'd be considered pirates.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    bgmcb (profile), 30 Sep 2014 @ 8:26pm

    better still

    A billion former XP boxes running Tails.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    jimb (profile), 30 Sep 2014 @ 8:35pm

    They brought this on themselves. I'm for it, how about it, programmers? Get on it... and make sure the code is public, so it can be vetted for NSA backdoors. Make them work a little, go back to basic 'tradecraft' instead of electronic haystack building and sifting.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Sep 2014 @ 9:03pm

    Problem with Tor is NSA style relays.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Whatever (profile), 1 Oct 2014 @ 6:44am

    Tor browsing: Taking a slow internet and making it twice as slow. I am sure it's going to be Comcast's fault too.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Oct 2014 @ 7:19am

    when freedom and privacy are threatened, people willlook to methods of preserving them. just because the security forces dont like it, doesn't mean you should preserve things for yourself or through the help of others.
    i just read where UK prime minister, Cameron, is going to remove the Human Rights law. im just wondering whether he will be allowed to get away with that? he's trying to not only go down the same road as the US government, he's trying to out do it! when hundreds of thousands of protestors are demonstrating in Hong Kong, trying to get civil rights, human rights, freedom and privacy, ie a democracy, Cameron is actively trying to destroy it! what the hell is wrong with these governments?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Oct 2014 @ 8:46am

      Re:

      Cameron is actively trying to destroy it! what the hell is wrong with these governments?

      Those people who enter politics are those who wish to impose the type of society that they prefer on everybody else, in that regard they are little better that ISIS, but they cannot see it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Oct 2014 @ 2:54am

    New Version Available

    If Mozilla adds it to Firefox, Tor developers are gonna have to work a lot harder. They'll have to find a new way to break it every six weeks.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lesnik Volkanow, 4 Oct 2014 @ 7:16pm

    Will not happen

    Tor in Firefox? Will not happen! First, Mozilla is on a short dog line at the hand of Google, so even if Mozilla would REALLY want it, Google would forbid them in doing so.

    But what is much more realistic.. Firefox is anyway compromised... adding DRM, supporting ads, integrating Google services more and more! I would rather recommend trusting in Seamonkey instead of Firefox these days.

    Mozilla turned more and more moronic after Google shoved tons of money into their a.......!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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